The “second-hand” fan
- Dawn Dumont | April 09, 2020
While never small, my imprint on the world has become significantly larger since I had a kid. When I look at pictures of unlucky whales choking on plastic, I think of the toy boxes at home filled with plastic toys that a certain toddler swore he needed at the time. We have enough plastic to choke at least two belugas. This waste problem is only getting worse since the toddler discovered YouTube videos in which other kids play with toys. (There are also a surprising number of YouTube adults playing with toys. I both admire and am repelled by them.) When the toddler watches these videos, he then shouts, “Mommy I need this.” And as you know, a lot of these YouTube toys are no longer available in stores. (Well, they are available on Amazon for about $200 apiece but no one tells the toddler that.)
This problem drove me to check out secondhand stores. We wander through the toy aisles and always find something new to him. The selection is all over the place, but there is a crazy amount of minion and ninja turtles figures – those never seem to go out of style. As a mom, I feel super-rich telling him, “Why stop at two ninja turtles – get three or four.” At a dollar apiece, I can afford to shop like a Kardashian.
As we walked around second-hand stores, I noticed a fair amount of elderly and young hipsters, which makes sense as they wear the same clothes: sensible shoes, pleated slacks and oversized sweaters. The elderly don’t wear as big of glasses but if you squint, they are pretty much twins.
I found some great deals on clothes for myself and my toddler but you should be aware that yes, sometimes these clothes have bugs on them. When I was younger, I assumed that all of the clothes on those hangers had been freshly laundered. I’m not sure where – surely in the back there was a big industrial-sized washing machine next to a giant dryer. One time I bought a skiing jacket because I was going to take up snowboarding and I remember dropping my purchase on my bed and then forgetting about it.
A few months later, I found a bug crawling on my blanket and I squished it. A smell emanated that I remembered oh, so well from my childhood – it was ye ole bedbug. I brought in the building manager, a hippie artist. As a white guy with dreadlocks, he wasn’t the least bit judgmental. With his help, I flipped the mattress and we found an entire colony – well, colonies – on the underside of the mattress.
They had been feeding off of me and me alone. Did I notice? Nope. Did I have any suspicious rashes? Nope. In fact, I had suffered zero health effects from the bedbugs feasting on me. It’s almost like I was the perfect host.
The ski jacket had been secondhand but these bugs were first-hand to me. I remember staring at the bedbug cities and thinking, “I am their God, I am powerful.”
Even though, of course, everyone else was disgusted. A friend who was supposed to visit me that weekend would only meet me in public places and deigned not to hug me.
My landlord helped me pack up my stuff into garbage bags. After my bugs were removed to a farm where they had lots of room to run around (no, of course they were chemically eradicated – but I like to pretend they made it out okay) I had a week’s worth of laundry to do without making eye contact with any of my fellow apartment-dwellers.
Ironically, after all that trouble, I never did go snowboarding in my bug-infested jacket.
So, while I am a big fan of secondhand stores because I get to feel like a rich mama and powerful like a person who could support a bedbug metropolis, everything goes into the washer on extra-hot.